“… is a break!”
It’s been a big year for Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna who broke into the international music scene in 2011 and has not looked back since. Not only did she release her fourth studio album full of simmering R&B beats featuring the likes of Jay Park, she did so as the first Muslim musician signed under David Foster’s label, Verve Records.
“This year was challenging,” she confesses. “I’m definitely at a place where I can finally say I’m comfortable in doing my job and getting recognition for my music. I think the next step is to inspire others to believe in their craft and do the same, regardless of their background, race or gender.
“I’m looking forward to having a bit of break over the holidays. I will be on my European tour, and my parents will fly over from Malaysia to meet me at one of the locations. So, I will get a bit of downtime.”
While gift-giving isn’t really a tradition the singer practises during Christmastime, she does love giving and receiving presents any time of the year.
“I love aromatherapy so the quickest way to my heart would be to give me scented candles and essential oils. I’d love you forever!
“As someone in the limelight, I get gifted a lot of things but there’s always a catch. Sometimes, brands send you things for advertising or they’d like you to promote their product for free. So, I’d have to say the best gift I’ve ever gotten was a spa day. It came with a card that said ‘Just enjoy – you deserve it’.”
"Kelly wears gown from JessicaCindy; and silver earrings and rings, all from APM Monaco."
“… is something fun”
– Kelly Latimer
33, Television host
Christmas is a big deal for Kelly and her family because there’s just something about the season that, she says, brings people together. But there’s also a special reason the television host is looking forward to the December holidays.
“We’re moving to a new house! It’s been a very expensive year because we’ve bought what we consider to be our dream home – and I hope it’ll be my forever home. Renovation is obviously not cheap, because we bought an older shophouse that we gutted but it’s been really, really exciting,” she thrills.
“Christmas is such a family-oriented event and it’s always been traditionally held at my mum’s. But since we’ve moved house this year, I’ve told everyone to come to mine instead. So, she’s going to teach me how to do a turkey from scratch and I’ve got new kitchen equipment that I’m excited to use.”
As someone who genuinely loves spending time with her nearest and dearest, Kelly, who has a two-year-old daughter, relishes the festive season and puts a lot of heart into her choice of presents. This year, though, she’s hoping to do something different.
“What I really want for Christmas is something fun,” stresses Kelly, “It can be a stressful period but I’m determined not to get (overwhelmed). I think too many people get focused on the dollar value of whatever they’re gifting when Christmas should always be fun.
“You should always open a present and go ‘Oh my god, I want to do that’. So if I (receive) a Nerf gun set that my whole family can use, I’d be happy that we all can have a shootout!”
"Amanda wears pearl necklace and pink embellished tube dress, both from Giambattista Valli x H&M; rose gold plated bangle from APM Monaco; and beret, stylist’s own."
“… is to relax, refresh & reset”
– Amanda Chaang
Newly married to Jonathan Chua of Sam Willows fame, Amanda is looking forward to head back to her hometown of Kuala Lumpur over the holidays where her to-do list consists of feasting and frolicking.
“All I really want for Christmas is to go home and have a nice family dinner before catching up with friends. The holidays are a great time to just relax, refresh and reset,” says the 29-year-old budding actress.
“My birthday falls in December so it’s extra nice even though I used to think that my birthday was overshadowed by the festivities. The consolation is that everyone is always in a good mood at the end of the year.”
While married life has taken some adjusting for the actress – with having to move countries and start her career afresh – she’s taken it all in her stride and can’t wait to see what 2020 has planned for her.
“This year has been full of ups and downs,” Amanda confesses. “Sometimes, it feels like I’m starting from scratch again because I had to move over here but I’m happy to do it.
“We’re starting the year with a bang because we’re heading to Las Vegas for the New Year’s countdown, and the last time I was there, I wasn’t 21 yet so it’s going to be a different experience. This trip is an early present from Jon, and it’s one of the best, aside from getting my dachshund, Chilli, of course!”
"Stephanie wears silver drop earrings from APM Monaco; and tulle gown from White Trousseau. "
“… is love”
– Stephanie Bovis
31, Host, actress & yoga instructor
Christmas is not usually a time of joy for Stephanie, who thinks the holiday compels people to embrace a false sense of happiness.
“All I want for Christmas is love, and I want to be surrounded by people who love me and that I love, and this doesn’t necessarily need to include family,” she explains truthfully.
“A lot of people feel they have to be with their families during Christmas but when you come from a family that’s pretty broken like mine, it should be about spending your time with others that you love whether it be a friend, a lover or your dog.”
A self-confessed travel lover, the fitness enthusiast and emerging actress also hopes to tick some countries off her bucket list over the holidays.
“The best present you could ever get me is a plane ticket to go somewhere,” says Stephanie. “That’s the perfect gift because an experience is something that keeps on giving. I love giving experiences to friends when it comes to gifting too.
“With something physical, let’s be honest, they’d probably never use it again but an experience – like a massage package – is something they can continue to enjoy throughout the year.”
Looking ahead to the New Year, Stephanie hopes she gets to refine her acting chops come 2020. “I feel like I’m ready now to take on more acting roles after taking classes with the Haque Centre Of Acting and Creativity. I can finally say that I’m a trained actor!” she exclaims with glee.
“It's just waiting for the opportunities to arise now so if I get more film roles in 2020, I'll be happy.”
"Lily wears chain necklace from H&M; and her own dress."
“… is time with my family”
– Lily Hamid
35, General manager, SocietyA
While Lily doesn’t celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, she does use it as an excuse to meet up with friends to eat, drink and be merry – a gathering that has now become an annual tradition. If anything, the festive season is one where she gets to slow down and reflect on the life she leads.
“It sounds very cliched and simple, but what I really want for Christmas is just to spend time with my kids. Work takes me away from my babies a lot of the time, so to wind down and have some bonding time with them with no calls and no emails in my inbox is my idea of the perfect gift,” says the mother-of-two.
“It takes a bit more thought when it comes to planning what to give others for the holiday season. I’m really into tea at the moment so perhaps people can expect to get a little box of tea during the Secret Santa exchange at my office!”
Lily explains that while 2019 has thrown her in for a loop with the arrival of her second child early in the year, she’s emerged on the other side relatively unscathed. “This year has been a big lesson in patience for me,” she shares. “I’m juggling a full-time job, raising a three-year-old and I have a new baby, too, so time is precious, but I think it’s made me grow.
“I didn’t think I’d enjoy my 30s as much as I have. I had a great time in my 20s but I’m more settled now, I know exactly what I want, and I don’t sweat the small stuff.”
PHOTOS: VEE CHIN AND STEVEN TAYLOR (FOR YUNA) / ART DIRECTION: IVY CHOONG / STYLING: NEO LI RONG / HAIR: ISAAC CHIN AND KAYLENE CHEONG/SALON NU, USING KEVIN MURPHY / MAKEUP: HONGLING LIM, USING URBAN DECAY